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Marilyn Horne still working during cancer fight

Opera star expected to make full recovery after treatment
/ Source: The Associated Press

Mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne has localized pancreatic cancer and is undergoing treatment offers an excellent chance for full recovery, her manager said Thursday.

Horne, 72, was diagnosed in mid-December, said Denise Pineau, her manager at Columbia Artists Management.

"There is no reason to anticipate any changes in her schedule," Pineau said in a statement.

That schedule includes teaching a master class at Carnegie Hall next Tuesday as part of "The Song Continues," a weeklong series of recitals and coaching sessions presented by Carnegie in partnership with the Marilyn Horne Foundation.

The fact that her cancer is localized allows for "recent significant breakthroughs in treatment," Pineau said.

Nationally, about 20 percent of pancreatic cancers are diagnosed while the tumor is confined entirely within the pancreas, giving doctors a chance to remove it before it spreads.

Her manager also attributed Horne's favorable prognosis to her positive attitude.

"Horne is known throughout the world for not only her magnificent voice, but also for her tremendous energy and human spirit, which will, along with the love of her family and friends, see her through this challenge," Pineau said.

Horne officially retired from the stage in 1999 with a Chicago recital and has devoted much of her time to working with young singers. She directs the vocal program at the Music Academy of the West, a summer school and festival in Santa Barbara, Calif., and supports promising artists through her foundation, established in 1994 to develop both the talent and audiences for vocal recitals.

Their role model is a singer whose blazing vocal virtuosity, combined with artistry that embraces the full range of human emotions, marked her signature roles in Handel's "Rinaldo" and Rossini's "L'Italiana in Algeri." The power and passion of Horne's voice has shone in Verdi's "Aida" and Bizet's "Carmen."

A native of Bradford, Pa., she studied at the University of Southern California and made her debut in Smetana's "The Bartered Bride" in a 1954 Los Angeles Guild Opera production.

Horne first sang at London's Covent Garden in 1964, and at Milan's La Scala in 1969.

A year later, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Adalgisa in Bellini's "Norma" alongside soprano Joan Sutherland.

From 1957 to 1960, Horne sang with Germany's Gelsenkirchen Opera Company, returning to the United States in 1960. That year, she married conductor Henry Lewis, with whom she performed and recorded. They divorced in 1974, but remained friends. He died in 1996.